I was perusing through Mashable today and noticed several headlines with the word “GIF” in them. Maybe the definition of a GIF is common knowledge, but the Internet is a tricky beast with all of its new developments – nothing is really as it seems. While a GIF looks like a picture, I found myself wondering if there was something special about it that qualifies it as a GIF… does it have to be funny? Informative? Does it have to involve motion? Is it just another meme?
I found myself ultimately asking myself: “Joanna, what exactly is a GIF?” So, after some poking around, I would like to now share the fruits of my research for all of those who, like me, lack acronym savvy.
GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, or in human terms – a picture. According to dictionary.com, it’s a type of standard compressed file format. This is actually similar to a JPEG that many people are familiar with for high-resolution photos, but a GIF is more easily transferred across slow connections. Perhaps that’s the reason why GIFs have become so popular in online journalism – its ability to transfer across slow connections.
Take a look at a couple of the latest GIFs on Mashable:
Now that you know what a GIF is, feel free to start saying things like, “hey, I saw this awesome GIF online today” or “I can’t believe you don’t know what a GIF is.” You’re welcome.